Listen to any of APRE’s music – be it Without Your Love’s shimmering, celestial bounce; the liquid grooves and clean lines of All Yours; or the widescreen pop cloudburst that is Don’t You Feel Like Heaven? – and it’s likely your first impression wouldn’t be that all these songs have their roots in the backroom of a West London chess club. But that’s exactly where APRE’s story begins.
Charlie Brown and Jules Konieczny were no strangers to making music individually, but it wasn’t until Sue who runs Ealing chess club (or, to use her full title “this legend called Sue”) suggested they should hook up and work together that the strands that make up APRE’s unique sound started to fuse together.
“She knew that we shared this passion for music and she paired us up,” recalls Brown, “we started playing together and found this love for the same thing.”
However, things didn’t quite immediately leap forwards from that moment to where we are today. Three years passed and Brown and Konieczny would spend their days playing in other groups, producing, working on other people’s material, making ends meet and trying to find their way in music. But something special kept bringing them back to that room. It wasn’t because of some over arching grand plan, it was simply what they did for fun outside of other projects.
“This was a happy accident,” notes Konieczny. “It was always our side project. The focus was the other bands we were in and me and Charlie would just go back in the evening and do this for fun. Then it got to the point where we had 35 songs and were like, ‘Hang on we’re being stupid here…’”
“APRE was the fun side where we could go and be ourselves in music.
We always thought it was better than the other stuff and we enjoyed it more,” adds Brown. “Even now, if a track’s not fun while we’re making it we normally fuck it off to be honest. It’s all been extremely natural. It’s not done in a fancy place, it’s done on quite terrible equipment and that’s what it’s about.”
You might read that and imagine APRE’s music to be a bit rough around the edges, something slightly carelessly tossed together for a bit of a laugh. Nothing could be further from the truth though.
They may have been recorded out the back of Ealing chess club or in the front room of Brown’s nan’s place, but these songs sparkle like a well-polished gem. Synths glisten like rays of light on a pool of water; bass lines slink in and out; a gentle cascade of guitar will wash over a crisp, irresistible beat as Brown’s vocals find the sweet spot between soulful, wistful and empathetic.
And all that delivered within pristine, intelligent pop songs. Pop songs with brains, heart and laser guided melodies.
“Don’t bore us get to the chorus” deadpans Brown. “Surely that’s the point isn’t it? If it’s a good song. If you bought a pair of trouser and they looked nice and people kept on saying ‘You’ve got nice trousers,’ you’d be like, ‘Yeah, because they’re good trousers.’ So if you write a good song why do people need to go, ‘Oh it’s quite pop…’ Mate, it’s just a good song.”
Part of what makes APRE so special though, is that there’s more to them than just good songs. Each APRE release is its own self-contained universe where everything matters and nothing is throwaway. From the thematic threads that tie the songs on each EP together to the subtle visual clues in the artwork and videos, right down to the clothes they wear on stage – like with any great band, to listen to APRE is to immerse yourself fully in their world.
“We always wanted to create something where if you go to a gig or your listening to it you’re pulled into this APRE world,” says Brown. “My favourite bands always did that to me. When you come back from a gig and you feel like you’ve not just seen a gig, you’ve entered a different place. It’s an escape. If every person who comes to our gigs or listens to our music can escape and become part of something, feel that we’re all in this together – that’s why we’re doing this.”
The door to APRE’s world is open. All you need to do is walk through it.